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Saturn Moon: Iapetus!

This image of Iapetus was acquired by the Voyager 2 spacecraft on August 22, 1981. It shows a portion of dark material on the left. The satellite's motion is towards the left.


Iapetus was discovered by Giovanni Cassini in 1671 and is well known for its mysterious dark material that covers the surface on the leading side. Its trailing side is bright. The dark material may have come from the inside or could have been caught from space. However the true reason remains unknown. One theory suggests that the material could come from Phoebe, in which meteor mpacts could send dust into space that Iapetus sweeps up with its gravitational field. Another theory suggests that the material is of internal origin because much of it is concentrated in the crater floors. Whatever the reason, this mystery will continue to puzzle scientists until further studies are conducted. With a very low density, Iapetus is believed to consist almost completely of water ice.


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